“OUTRAGEOUS flooding” on land and roads in East Clare was discussed with council officials at the most recent meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District.
Cathaoirleach, Councillor Pat Hayes tabled a motion proposing a planned programme of drainage works for the River Grainey and its catchment area. “We need to take the bull by the horns on this,” he said. “The river is 40 to 50 miles long and the lack of drainage is now coming home to roost on the roads around Feakle and Tulla, especially around the likes of Derrynahila. I have called previously for a single authority to deal with drainage. Some good work has been done in the past, but not for a long time on the River Grainey. If we don’t act we’ll end up having to raise the roads in places like Ayle, Core and Caher.”
The Fianna Fáil members pointed out that the River Grainey is also an important amenity in terms of recreation and tourism in East Clare. “We have an wonderful opportunity here,” he said. “We have the potential for fishing, kayaking and activities that link communities, but there is a lack of over vision.”
The Caher native expressed dissatisfaction with an official response from the council executive, saying, “We need to make sure this is put on the agenda. We need to work with other agencies and to protect the infrastructure, roads and landowners along the river.”
The motion was seconded by Councillor Joe Cooney who described it as “good and timely”. “We all know that climate change is causing severe weather events at different times of the year and a lot of land is being flooded,” said the Fine Gael member. “A number of areas have been badly flooded this year, we will have to get on to the Department [of Communications, Climate Action and Environment]. Since the last recession, there has been little to no drainage works and little or no funding. There is no other choice now due to the severe weather and the fact that the local authority doesn’t have the funding. We’re in government together and we need to put pressure on government. There has been outrageous flooding on lands and roads in this area. We need to get the funding from the Department.”
Councillor Pat Burke noted that he had raised the issue himself two years ago and had been surprised to find differences from one county to another as to responsibility for river drainage. “I was amazed to find that that OPW has charge of some rivers across the county boundary in Galway and have done huge works. However, the OPW doesn’t seem to have responsibility for any of the rivers in the Killaloe Municipal District. Surely the money has to come from somewhere to maintain them. It’s very disappointing that the OPW looks after some rivers and not others. Some fine day, years ago, I wonder who did the classification.”
Senior Executive Engineer Tom Mellett outlined that the council had not secured the funding needed and that he was hopeful that there might be money available in 2021. He added that typically landowners were responsible for the drainage of their properties, with assistance from the county council, where roads and other infrastructure are at risk of flooding.
Councillor Hayes agreed with Councillor Cooney that funds need to sought from government. “There are opportunities for climate change-related projects,” he said. “There is a real risk that projects like this could go on the back foot. Raising roads is like just putting on a sticking plaster. We have to exhaust all avenues for funding support.”